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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Centers for Practice-Based Effectiveness and Services Research with Near-Term Impact


Joel Sherrill, Ph.D.
Division of Services and Intervention Research


The goal of this initiative is to reissue and extend the NIMH Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) Research Centers program. The ALACRITY Centers program is intended to support high-impact, practice-based research with near-term potential to significantly advance clinical practice and generate knowledge that will fuel transformation of mental health care in the United States.


The public health burden associated with serious mental illness demands that we combine current knowledge about effective mental health interventions with emerging health information and communication technologies, health care informatics, data science tools, and novel organizational structures for delivering health care to speed the translation of research into practice and achieve significantly better outcomes for individuals with these disabling conditions.

ALACRITY Centers are intended to address major mental health problems observed among children, youth, and/or adults (including older adults), and to function as catalysts for innovative research aimed at increasing the effectiveness of existing interventions, improving delivery and quality of evidence-based services, and accelerating the diffusion, implementation, and continuous improvement of new practices in care settings. In order to speed the translation of research into practice, NIMH encourages research Centers that incorporate:

  • Practice-based infrastructure that leverages clinical practice settings as incubators for new research ideas and as laboratories for nimbly refining and testing interventions and service delivery strategies;
  • Deployment-focused approaches that consider the perspective of key stakeholders (e.g., service users, families, providers, administrators, payors, policy makers) to yield interventions and service strategies that are relevant and can be more rapidly integrated into practice; and
  • Transdisciplinary research teams that broaden traditional clinical and mental health services collaborations to include new insights, technologies, and research methods from experts in areas such as behavioral economics, health information and communications technology, decision science, and health systems engineering to advance clinical research and practice.  

As such, the current program provides a mechanism for maximizing synergies across various components of the mental health research ecosystem, including new discoveries in basic and clinical research, transformative health care technologies, advances in information science, and new federal and state mechanisms for organizing and financing mental health care. ALACRITY Centers provide a unique opportunity for addressing translational priorities outlined in the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research, i.e., effective transfer of findings from clinical studies to practice settings and communities, where research findings can be applied to improve public health. With this renewal and extension, NIMH seeks to identify new opportunities for practice-based, T2 translational research in areas of unmet need and in high priority areas, including research to refine, test, and disseminate strategies for identification, prevention, and treatment of individuals at risk for suicide.